It has been several months – including the winter holiday season – since my house has given me any remote sense of joy. I really (really) like this house. It’s quirky enough to satisfy my disdain of cookie-cuttery and “normal” enough to reassure my faint desire to conform.
Inanimate – how could it give anything let alone joy?
But this evening, a weird coldsnappping on the wind and the dog impatiently yanking me down the driveway for a night walk I am beginning to enjoy, I turn to look back at our house, from the corner.
Two paper star lanterns hang side by side, glowing in concert with a single strand of un-twinkling twinkle/fairy lights.
She is in there, with six then seven then six of her girlfriends. Playing games and laughing wildly, howling at each other’s uncensored teenage humors and running commentary.
Junk food, juice, real soda, pizza and eventual ice cream cake hopefully burned off before bed so no middle-night stomach issues result. They sang to her, and she commented with genuine thrill, “I haven’t had an ice cream cake since I was like seven or eight!!” and blew out the 19 candles – an extra for luck – in one noiseless whistle. She was happy, IS happy, and that is something I have not witnessed in a long time. She moved out abruptly, in January, after I drew my final line in the sand about her disrespectful behavior and backtalk. I was done and that time, unlike previous others, there was to be no discussion, no bargaining. She moved out the very next day, her father ‘rescuing’ her from me, her awful mother, her personal target, and blame-source. He showed up, hours after he first promised, and hauled most of her things away, leaving a mess in her room and a giant, painful hole in our home.
Down to the final four, the sleepover will be sweet and sacred, as most of these things are. In the morning, I will prepare crepes and bacon and tea or juice, and cinnamon buns. They’ll be gone before 10:30 AM. And, then, so will she, until the next visit. She does not come around often at all; I am ignored or shunned or too embarrassing. It would be the same if she still lived here. However, it was her behavior – not my lack of love or mothering – that led to the ultimatum: change how you treat me or take your show on the road and play a few acts at your father’s. She could not change for us – she needs to “individuate”, my friends all tell me. “She’ll come back, better than before”, they all say. But that is not now; the future remains a blank canvas. We can only love what is right now. So, tonight, I love this and the following moments of her being home.
Tomorrow night the house will be darker, less full, less lively and certainly less noisy. I wish it were like this more often: alive, glowing and sighing with joy. Unbridled and happy. But, for now, it is really quite perfect. ❤